Dear Kelvin,

I'm away at a conference at the moment, trying to set up some economic options for our people, so I'm a bit out of the loop about your spat with Brian Tamaki over the Man Up programme, but I'm getting chased by all the media for a comment, so here's my suggestion, again ... please drop the attacks and deal with the issue.

You're the MP for Te Tai Tokerau, home of the Ngāpuhi people. That's quite an honour. You're the deputy leader of the Labour Party, with the full weight of government behind you.

And you are also the Minister of Corrections, a portfolio you campaigned hard for at the last election, when you said, "I'm no huge fan of Destiny, but if there's a programme that seems to be doing okay you'd think that Serco would want to keep them."


You don't need to be throwing personal insults at Brian Tamaki that have nothing to do with Man Up. Our people are dying in jail, and government doesn't seem to have any answers, and yet Man Up seems to be having a positive effect on inmates who engage with them, but can't get any support.

All I am asking is that you look at it. You have the capacity to pull together the facts and figures. Check the re-offending and recidivism rates of those inmates who have joined Man Up. Contact social services to assess the engagement of Man Up members. Call the kura of Man Up members' children to see whether there has been change with the kids.

Talk to whānau, hapū and iwi, who see the changes in these Man Up brothers.

Consider the facts about Man Up please. And if those facts show Man Up can deliver positive results, then offer them a contract. And if it doesn't, then don't.

But don't personalise this in an attack on Tamaki and his followers. This is a serious issue. The prison population has cracked the 10,000 ceiling. And more than half of those people, Kelvin, are Ngāpuhi — your people ... and mine.

So here's my offer. Me and Willie Jackson host a dinner for you and Brian to consider the issues and agree on a pathway forward. (I haven't spoken to Willie or Brian yet, but I'm sure they'd agree).

Kelvin, this issue is bigger than you and Brian Tamaki. And it's bigger than me and you too. Let's do this.